If cancer is found, it will then be "staged." Staging is a careful and thorough examination and classification of how far the cancer has spread and what body organs are involved. Stages include:
- Stage 0—the cancer is found only in the cells covering the cervix.
- Stage I—the cancer has grown into (invaded) the cervix, but it is not growing outside the uterus.
- Stage II—the cancer has grown beyond the cervix and uterus and may have spread to the upper vagina. It has not spread (metastasized) to the walls of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina.
- Stage III—the cancer has spread to the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis. It has not spread to lymph nodes or to other areas of the body.
- Stage IV—the most advanced stage of cancer; it has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs, lymph nodes or bones.
Staging is a very important part of the diagnostic process. Treatment options and patient prognosis depend in large part on the stage of the cancer.